Updated: Apr 27
January is National Get Organized and Be Productive Month as designated by NAPO, the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. According to a recent NAPO survey, 72% of people consider most or all of their home to be disorganized. If you take 15 minutes a day during the month of January to tackle this list you will have spent almost 8 hours decluttering! So let's get started.
Day 1: Useless "Freebies": Those t-shirts, stress balls, magnets, and other miscellaneous swag are items that don't normally serve much of a purpose. Donate, give away, or recycle if possible.
Day 2: Loose Change: Time to cash in on that change that has been collected. Take it to your bank to avoid a fee. If you prefer Coinstar, you can find them in almost any grocery store. They charge almost a 12% fee, but if you select to have your money in the form of a gift card, there usually isn't a charge.
Day 3: Used Batteries: For safety, tape both ends of the battery. Alkaline batteries can be thrown out with your trash. Any rechargeable batteries can and should be recycled. Check your state's recycling regulations for batteries. Day 4: DVR Clean Out: Time to toss those shows that you haven't watched or never did get back to watching. It is so easy to find what you are looking for with on-demand options that this should be a quick cleanout. Day 5: Old Pillows: If they are uncomfortable, unused, or at least 2 years old, it's time to toss them. Wash your pillow every 6 months and use a pillow protector to get the most out of it. The only exception here is if you spent the bucks on a quality down pillow. Those can last 10-15 years with the proper care. If you can't repurpose them or donate them to an animal shelter, then check to see if you can recycle textiles in your area before you trash them. Day 6: Wire Hangers: Many dry cleaners and thrift stores will accept wire hangers. Choose to use an alternative to wire hangers since they tend to cause clothes to lose their shape. They also bend quite easily and can't hold heavier fabrics. Check out wooden or felt hangers as a suitable replacement. Day 7: Single Socks: I keep my single socks in a small basket in my closet and if they haven't been found or mated within the month, then I let them go. Textile recycling is a great way to repurpose them or if you love to up-cycle there are hundreds of uses for single socks just check out Pinterest or Google.
Day 8: Old Mattresses: If your mattress can't be resold or donated (most donation centers don't take used mattresses) then try these options: if you're buying a new mattress, ask if the store will take your old one. Check with your local recycling service or waste collector. Check with Bye Bye Mattress' directory of recyclers for one near you. Day 9: Shoes Not Worn: Your best bet is to sell or donate depending on the condition. If you haven't worn them in the last 1-2 years, it may be time to let them go. While they may be cute to look at, if they aren't comfortable to wear then chances are you won't!
Day 10: Old Towels/Linens: Rule of thumb here is to replace towels every 2-3 years as they lose their absorbency and softness over time. A good set of sheets should last about 6-8 years, but if they are wearing thin or fading it may be time to replace them. Check with animal rescues and shelters before tossing out or finding a textile recycler. Day 11: Candles: With jar candles, if you remove residual wax, the jars can be recycled. Candles can maintain their scent for a long time if stored properly (with a lid), but just because they can be stored doesn't mean you should hold onto them. If you don't like the scent then donate it! Day 12: Expired Spices: While spices don't actually spoil, they do lose their potency and flavor over time. Ground spices can last for 3-4 years, while dried leafy herbs have shorter spans of 1-3 years. Day 13: Condiments in the Fridge: Once these items are opened their shelf life is limited. This is one area in my own home that needs constant attention. Check the expiration dates to see what may need to go. Day 14: Cardboard Food Boxes: For me, removing those big boxes from my pantry is a must! They take up so much space and it can be hard to see what you truly have. Ditch the boxes and use clear bins or containers. This also makes it easier to grab what you need if you're in a hurry and to not overbuy at the grocery store. Best of all, cardboard is easy to recycle! Day 15: Cookbooks Not Used: Sell, donate, recycle, or giveaway. If you haven't cracked that cookbook in over a year, chances are you won't be needing it. Use an online recipe instead of taking up space in your cabinet or bookshelf. Day 16: Lidless Containers: Go through your containers and whatever doesn't have a matching piece needs to go. This is also a great time to weed out any containers that are warped or discolored. My ultimate recommendation is to invest in glass containers. Recycle those miscellaneous pieces if you can! Day 17: Takeout Menus: At our house, we have a binder for our takeout menus that is organized by cuisine type. But if that is out of reach for you, don't be afraid to ditch those menus. Almost all restaurants have them available online. Instead, keep a list of your favorite places to dine so you can easily decide where you may want to eat. If you're truly attached, take photos and digitally store them. Day 18: Unused Table Linens: After the holidays is a great time to purge out your table linens. Evaluate what wasn't used this year or what may need to be tossed from wear and tear.
Day 19: Old Magazines: Unless a magazine has some sort of sentimental or historical value, it's probably safe to say it can be let go. Those back issues of People and US Weekly are old news. Recycle those paper materials! Day 20: Expired Coupons: Paper coupons can be so easily forgotten about and get lost in our paper clutter. For easier organization, use a small accordion file to organize by date. Or, if you're tech-savvy just use your smartphone! Most grocery stores have coupons on their app and don't forget about all of those fun savings sites out there. Day 21: Extra Pens/Pencils: Toss any that don't work, are out of ink, or aren't in great condition. Unfortunately, there aren't many options here for recycling. A fair amount of pens and pencils would put you in the range of 10-15. Any more than that, look at donating or giving away if possible. Check with churches, schools, and daycares to see if they are in need.
Day 22: Old Planners and Calendars: If you aren't repurposing the photos or inserts, it's time to recycle! Make sure to remove the plastic cover if it has one. Otherwise, a spiral-bound notebook can be recycled. Day 23: Junk Mail: My best advice is to sort out the junk mail before it even reaches the inside of your home. If it's too late for that, take a few minutes to eliminate those credit card offers, promotional flyers, and advertisements to send them to the recycle bin. To prevent future junk mail, consider opting out of prescreened insurance and credit card offers www.optoutprescreen.com Day 24: Wrapping Paper Scraps and Gift Bags: If you haven't found a clever use for your leftover wrapping paper scraps and you seem to come across them every time you need to wrap a gift, then let them go. Chances are slim that you will find that perfect size gift to match your scrap. Day 25: Empty Cardboard Boxes: Instead of recycling, consider this an option to easily rid yourself of your clutter by using the Give Back Box program. A great way to donate your unwanted, gently used items. Visit www.givebackbox.com/works for more details. Day 26: Nail Polish: Most nail polishes have a life span of about 1-2 years. Check the texture, it is usually a telltale sign that it needs to go if it is goopy, crusty, or clumpy. To make polishes last longer, keep them in a cool dry place. You may find that they can last for years. But if you haven't used them in that 1-2 year time frame, consider giving them away. Recycle nail polish at a hazardous household recycling event when possible, it should not be thrown out in the trash. Day 27: Expired Medications: The best way to dispose of prescription and over the counter medications is to take them to a drug take-back site or location. Find a location near you via the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency).
Day 28: Makeup: Makeup DOES expire! Liquid and cream makeup is about 6 months - 1 year. Lipstick after 1 year, powder makeup after 2 years. Liquid eyeliner and mascara have only about 3 months. If the bottles are empty and cleaned out, they can be recycled. Don't rinse out half-used bottles or dump the contents, wipe them out if possible. Worst case scenario, they have to go in the garbage. Day 29: Travel Toiletries: I like to keep a few of these on hand in our spare bathrooms for guests, and I also use them for my own travel kit. But anything that doesn't neatly fit in one of these two areas gets donated. Check with a local homeless or women's shelter to see if they have a need. And by all means, resist the urge to take them from your next hotel stay.
Day 30: Unused Perfume/Cologne: Some fragrances can last up to a decade! By keeping these bottles out of humidity and sunlight you can better preserve them. But unless it's a really expensive bottle that you only wear on special occasions, it's time to reevaluate your scents. If you haven't worn it in 6 months - 1 year, consider letting it go. If the bottle still has liquid in it, it counts as hazardous waste. Empty bottles can usually be recycled. Day 31: Expired or Unused Lotions: Open lotion bottles usually are good for about a year. Sealed bottles can last up to 3 years. If the product didn't work out the way you expected then let it go. And if you have sunscreen, it can last up to 3 years once opened unless an expiration date tells you otherwise. Anything past this time and you risk being unprotected in the sun as well as the potential for bacteria to grow in the bottle. Again, check with your municipality or county for hazardous waste recycling options.
Give Back Box Program Information
Some additional helpful links:
For those of you in Oakland County, MI
For those of you in Shelby Township, MI